Each year, GoFundMe hosts more than 250,000 campaigns to pay for medical expenses, accounting for around a third of the money donated to the site—and in an interview with Kaiser Health News, CEO Rob Solomon said that statistic is a sign that the U.S. health system is "terrible" and "really broken."
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Solomon: "I would love nothing more than for 'medical' to not be a category on GoFundMe"
In the interview, Solomon said the fact that so many people use GoFundMe to raise money for medical bills "saddens" him.
"I would love nothing more than for 'medical' to not be a category on GoFundMe," he said. "The reality is, though, that access to health care is connected to the ability to pay for it. If you can't do that, people die. People suffer. We feel good that our platform is there when people need it."
Before he came to the job, Solomon said he "had no notion of how severe the problem is. You read about the debate about single-payer health care and all the issues, the partisan politics. What I really learned is the health care system in the United States is really broken. Way too many people fall through the cracks."
He added, "The government is supposed to be there, and sometimes they are. The health care companies are supposed to be there, and sometimes they are. But for literally millions of people, they’re not. The only thing you can really do is rely on the kindness of friends and family and community."
As for what this says about the United States' health care system, Solomon said the system is "terrible," adding that "there are people who are not getting relief from us or from the institutions that are supposed to be there. We shouldn't be the solution to a complex set of systemic problems. They should be solved by the government working properly, and by health care companies working with their constituents."
Where GoFundMe falls short
Solomon's concern about the lack of systemic solutions to America's health care problem echoes a point that others have raised about patients' heavy reliance on GoFundMe: Not every campaign is successful.
In fact, according to Marketplace, a successful medical GoFundMe campaign often takes "medical literacy, social-media savvy, and access to video-making equipment."
Marketplace found that the campaigns most likely to fail were ones with "multiple and overlapping health and social crises."
For his part, Solomon acknowledged that GoFundMe is at best an incomplete solution to runaway health care costs. "There has to be a renaissance, a dramatic change in public policy, in how the government focuses on this and how the health care companies solve this," he said (Baker, "Vitals," Axios, 1/17; Bluth, Kaiser Health News, 1/16).
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